The launch on Wednesday was the first by North Korea since October and was detected by several militaries in the region, drawing criticism from governments in the United States, South Korea, and Japan.
North Korea first tested a hypersonic missile in September, joining a race headed by major military powers to deploy the advanced weapons system.
Hypersonic weapons usually fly towards targets at lower altitudes than ballistic missiles and can achieve more than five times the speed of sound – or about 6,200 km per hour (3,850 mph).
Despite their name, analysts say the main feature of hypersonic weapons is not speed – which can sometimes be matched or exceeded by traditional ballistic missile warheads – but their manoeuvrability.
The test also confirmed components such as flight control and its ability to operate in the winter, KCNA added.
“The successive successes in the test launches in the hypersonic missile sector have strategic significance in that they hasten a task for modernizing strategic armed force of the state,” the KCNA report said.
Hypersonic weapons are considered the next generation of arms that aim to rob adversaries of reaction time and traditional defeat mechanisms.
Last month the United States completed construction of a massive, $1.5 billion long-range radar for a homeland missile defence system in Alaska that it says can track ballistic missiles as well as hypersonic weapons from countries such as North Korea.
Photos of the missile used in Wednesday’s test show what analysts said is a liquid-fueled ballistic missile with a conical-shaped Manoeuvrable Reentry Vehicle (MaRV) blasting off from a wheeled launch vehicle in a cloud of flame and smoke.
It is a different version than the weapon tested last year, and was first unveiled at a defence exhibition in Pyongyang in October, Panda said.
“They likely set up at least two separate development programmes,” he added. “One of these was the Hwasong-8, which was tested in September. This missile, which shares a few features in common with the Hwasong-8, is another.”
Talks aimed at persuading North Korea to surrender its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile arsenal have been stalled since a series of summits between leader Kim Jong Un and then-U.S. President Donald Trump broke down with no agreement.
U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has said it is open to talking to North Korea, but Pyongyang has said American overtures are empty rhetoric without more substantive changes to “hostile policies” such as military drills and sanctions.
The latest test came just hours before South Korean President Moon Jae-in attended a groundbreaking ceremony for a rail line he hopes will eventually connect the divided Korean peninsula, casting doubts over his hopes for an eleventh-hour diplomatic breakthrough with North Korea before his five-year term ends in May.